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Dawson Economic SP: A Budget for a Better, Just Century
Tommy Dawson strides to the podium wearing his typical outfit of a schlubbly looking corduroy jacket, corduroy pants, and a red tie. He sticks his thumb up and smiles a la Corbyn before beginning (permission from Nathan): 

Hello Coventry! I’m pleased to have left Spy vs. Spy land in Westminster to discuss why we cannot squander this historic opportunity to forge a fairer economy and how we can achieve economic justice together.

As I’m sure you have heard, after four months of silence and psychodrama while cities and towns suffered in every region, the Government has finally offered a few words on the economy and a budget proposal. Having reviewed it, suffice to say, the Tories don’t think too highly of working communities like my own in Sheffield or here in Coventry. They want us to believe that the misery we see around us, the poverty and precarity that our brothers and sisters have been condemned to, the sleepless nights of parents filled with anxiety about their children’s future, the worry families feel about how they’ll scrape by next week, that the cruel reality of this economic crisis is a mere bump on Thatcher’s road to a prosperous economy. That the totality of our pain, of our despair, of our anxiety, is simply a “structural adjustment” as their jargon may put it. 

Their budget reflects this view. The very same people who voted time and time again to hollow our industry, to gut our public services, to knife our communities are now rallying around a temporary package that only tinkers around the edges of a fundamentally rotten economic base. After staying essentially silent for four months as the repercussions of economic calamity blazed all around us I don’t think anyone is shocked that all this Tory Government could come up with is feeble tinkering while the wretched processes of deindustrialisation, deunionisation, and deregulation continue unabated. After all, these are the exact same Tory benches that not more than a year ago were salivating at the prospect of more cuts, of more rot, of more inequality. I deserve no credit for simply noting what working people are well aware of: the Tories can only offer the temporary bandaging of a fundamentally exploitative economic project because ultimately, that project has benefited their wealthy mates beyond what they could have imagined in their wildest dreams as the project began in 1979. While the many have suffered from “structural adjustments” the few have risen to new heights of opulence and splendor. 

Labour, on the contrary, doesn’t offer gimmicks. We don’t seek a temporary fix to an economic project that is rotten to its core. Instead, our shadow budget constitutes a significant first step in a plan for national renewal, recovery, and hope as we stride toward the next century. Just as Clem Atlee and Nye Bevan knew that from the ashes of the Second World War, today we must build a more equal society oriented towards meeting human needs. Here in Coventry, Labour reaffirms its commitment to building a just economy for the 21st Century out of the wreckage of Thatcherism. We will work together - with working people all across Britain - so that our children may be proud to grow up in a century where the scourge of poverty in one of the wealthiest societies in history is unknown. Where all regardless of age or background can self-actualise. And where the pleasure of a full and happy life is not tethered off from the broad majority of us as an experience only to be enjoyed by those who reside in mansions of glory like the manors of feudal barons of old.

Our budget is the first step in a national plan that seeks to restore our industry in a manner that benefits all, revitalise our public services, and restore our communities that have been torn apart after cut after cut so that they may be spaces of neighborly solidarity and places where parents may raise their children with pride, knowing that they can envision future generations living there in prosperity and peace. 

Our budget constitutes not only bold action to provide immediate relief to those condemned to misery by the failed economic experimentation of the last decade, but also transformative long term investment to create a bottom-up, sustainably healthy economy. For job-seekers we are dramatically increasing funding for jobcentre resources, for adult-skills training, and for youth training. Starving our social security services over the past decade has been one of the most shameful policies of the latest Tory Governments. That ends with a Labour Government. Our budget treats social security with the seriousness it needs because those failed by an intentionally cruel, mean-spirited economic project deserve dignity and support not shame and alienation.  Not only does our budget say enough to the disastrous practice of selling off of our publicly owned industries to speculators in the City of London so that they may pad their pockets more, but rather it proudly more than doubles our spending on investment in them. That way, we may enter the 21st Century with a sleek, modern array of public companies that not only meet the needs of all of us better than they ever have, but also provide good-paying, stable jobs as part of the foundation of an equal, democratic economy. We are committed to serious, long term investment in the communities hit hardest by deindustrialization and subsequent Tory neglect. Further, in Government, Labour will create a Democratic Workplace Center which will function as a bank providing no-interest loans to workers at firms that are going bankrupt so that those firms are not only kept afloat but also organised as democratic worker-owned co-operatives so that the workers who create the wealth have a say in how it is distributed and how their workplace is run. This is a commitment to a democratic economy and a commitment to our communities as it offers stability in a time of uncertainty while raising wages and benefits in the process. Additionally, public sector workers from nurses and doctors to police and firefighters, teachers and soldiers will see a 10% increase in pay as a first step in ensuring that their wages reflect the value they create and the dignity by which they go about their work. 

Our social housing has experienced shameless neglect over the past decade. Our budget invests more than £4 bn on building modern, high-quality social housing units that are affordable and pleasant to live in free from unscrupulous landlords, with plenty of natural light and modern amenities. We are committing £2.5 bn to mortgage relief for those suffering from unemployment and underemployed in this low-wage, precarious economy and consequently unable to keep up. Public transit is the lifeline for people in communities across Britain and our budget invests to modernize and expand services. Further, we will provide the necessary funds to local transit services to scrap bus fares across Britain so that working people can get from home, to the market, to their jobs and wherever they need to go and back without nagging material anxiety. 

With our budget, the eleven-year Tory siege on the NHS will be history. Not only will a Labour Government build 300 new health facilities across Britain, hire 1,000 new doctors and 5,000 new nurses, we will also increase spending on health across the board to ensure that the quality of care imagined by Nye Bevan as he set out on his project to build a health system organised to meet human needs is met. Further, we will scrap the prescription charge which is regressive in nature as the wealthy few spend a far smaller percentage of their income paying it than working families, on average. 

Labour is committed to building an education system that not only prepares future generations for the challenges they might face but allows them to find and pursue their passions and self-actualise. Education does not have to be modeled off of industrial efficiency but should instead be tailored to the needs and interests of those learning. As such, our shadow budget commits to building 125 new schools and increases per-pupil funding by nearly £200. We know that education isn’t restricted to young people either and that is why our budget commits more than £600 million to expand adult skills and learning initiatives so that all of us can continue to learn, develop, and pursue our passions throughout life. 

Now, surely the Tories will be incensed on behalf of their wealthy mates that our budget asks the few who are doing better than ever to pay a modest amount more in taxes to help finance some of our transformative initiatives to create a just economy. They may scare-monger over investment. Well, let’s put this notion to bed right now. Over the last eleven years, Tory Governments have slashed the tax rates for the wealthiest in our society. They tirelessly worked on an economic project that undermined the trade union movement so that they may exploit workers for lower wages, they allowed the speculators to pilfer our publicly owned industries. We have seen a profound upward transfer of wealth over the past decade and what have has come of it? Have they invested it in any coordinated way toward building a stable economy? The fluctuations of the past few years and the massive recession now suggest otherwise. In fact, many have stashed it away in foreign bank accounts and built ostentatious residences. Despite what the Tories may suggest, this recession is not felt equally by all and the few who are doing better than ever can be asked to contribute more so that we can make the vital long term investment this economy needs to end this recession and become fairer in the process. 

What we have discussed today are just some highlights of our first step in what will be a transformative program to build a better world in a better century. I’d like to end on how we get there. I’m sure you have seen that recently a Tory cabinet official went on the telly to begrudgingly announce the end of the vile poll tax. What we saw in the lead up to that decision was a vindication of the theory that change does not come from above but rather from below. The Tory Government’s decision came after a months-long campaign of radical, bold organisation with protestors that had clear demands, passion in their hearts, and confidence that what they were doing was just. After months of righteous action from below, the Tories knew that if they didn’t act the results would be disastrous for them electorally. As working people struggling under an unjust economic order, we must view the budget with the same framework for change. The Tories changed course this year from signing off year after year to ruthless cutting to a budget featuring limited investment because they knew that doing anything less would be disastrous for them politically. Their Finance Bill is the bare minimum that those committed to Thatcherism will temporarily concede in a single year in an effort to preserve their project. But we know that we are worth more than the bare minimum! We know that after a decade of economic assault that we deserve a democratic economy organized to meet human needs - not scraps from the people who waged that assault! And how do we get more? How do we achieve the transformative programme I’ve outlined today? The same way we organised to scrap the poll tax. If you feel inspired by our vision, if you know that a world free from poverty and despair is possible, if you believe that our economy should be organized for the benefit of the broad majority, not the wealthy few, then organise into activist groups and in your local Labour Party and fight for it! Be prepared to knock on doors and explain how our vision will uplift the voiceless. We can reach the alienated and checked out of our political system, just as the movement against the poll tax did! If we put in the hard work then we can set forth on building a better 21st Century together! 
Labour 1991 Budget: For a Better, Just Century
Tommy Dawson
MP for Sheffield Brightside (1979-Present)
Deputy Leader of Labour (1990-Present), Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (1990-Present)
Socialist Campaign Group. 8 XP. Media Darling, Campaign Guru
An excellent speech but once you bold half of it, does that really emphasise anything?

The shadow budget itself gets a very divided response, with the left wing press and opinion formers praising it, while more liberal voices in the Guardian are cautious about how much you're taxing and spending. The right wing press obviously hates it.
Steve | A-Team

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